Cal Football Countdown: 17 Days, A Mid-Fall Camp Overview
We're about a week away from the end of fall camp, two and a half weeks away from Cal's opener against UC Davis, and a week and a half until the college football season opens in earnest. For this edition of the Cal Football Countdown, we're going to look at where the Bears are as a team, both on the recruiting side for the 2020 class and with the starting lineup.
Solidified: Defensive Backs and Linebackers, Offensive Line
The defensive backfield and linebacker position seem like obvious things to be solidified, since the DBs have been lauded for their success as a group and Evan Weaver is set to have a big senior season. What has solidified is who's playing with those guys and backing up those guys, especially at defensive back. Guys like Chigozie Anusiem, Branden Smith, Daniel Scott, and Craig Woodson have made strides, to the point where that could be the group starting in 2020. Josh Drayden has turned himself into a swiss-army knife, capable of playing outside or inside at corner. With Traveon Beck nursing a hamstring issue, Drayden gives Gerald Alexander another tool in the toolbox.
At linebacker, the first group on the field has been Cam Goode, Weaver, Kuony Deng, and Tevin Paul most frequently, as expected, but the backup situation also looks rosy. Colt Doughty and Evan Tattersall seem entrenched as the backups (with Doughty flipping with Deng at points), while Ben Hawk Schrider has impressed coaches as a physical edge setter. In addition, Joey Ogunbanjo is up to 240 lbs, and can be an effective pass rusher, building on his freshman year. In addition, Tim DeRuyter has highlighted the efforts of true freshman Orin Patu, redshirt junior Chinedu Udeogu, and redshirt freshman Nick Alftin. There's lots of guys to play versatile roles.
The starting offensive line group seems pretty solidified as (from left to right) Will Craig, Gentle Williams, Mike Saffell, Valentino Daltoso, and Jake Curhan have played together a ton. Matt Cindric has rotated in with the group, as has Brandon Mello. Steve Greatwood has his top group at the moment, as it seems.
Question Marks: Nose Guard, Wide Receiver
Nose guard is going to continue to be a point of consternation, due to Siu Fuimaono and Aaron Maldonado being absent from camp. Luc Bequette has been taking reps at the spot, along with true freshman Brett Johnson and redshirt freshman Erick Nisich. Cal will likely play over half their defensive reps in nickel (Justin Wilcox noted they were about 50/50 a year ago), but there will be a need for a nose at some point. If Bequette can be than guy, that makes things a lot easier, but having the assurance of Siu or Maldonado would help.
At wideout, the question is who plays when. Both Justin Wilcox and Burl Toler have said that there is no depth chart at the position, in order to spur competition, so plenty of guys have played. Both Nikko Remigio and Jeremiah Hawkins have been solid on the inside, while Jordan Duncan has manned both inside and out. Makai Polk has impressed early with his athleticism. Ricky Walker has some speed on the outside, and both Trevon Clark and Kekoa Crawford are smooth athletes. Monroe Young has been good when healthy as well, it's just about solidifying who plays and who will be the main passcatchers.
- Chase Garbers has been the first QB out almost every day, as Cal still waits on word of Devon Modster's eligibility for the UC Davis game.
- Chris Brown is the likely leader at the RB spot, though Marcel Dancy, Deshawn Collins and Alex Netherda, each had some nice runs in Tuesday's scrimmage
- Collin Moore and McCallan Castles have been with the first team most at TE
- Zeandae Johnson has been a consistent fixture in a DL spot, either in the base package, or in the nickel
State of the Class:
Right now the Bears have a pretty solid distribution of recruits, with at least two at every position besides quarterback. ATH Justin Baker added to this on Sunday, giving the Bears 19 commits.
The priorities in this class were to add a plethora of receivers, and Cal has a whole bunch of different types of guys. Cal added two big TEs in Kaleo Ballungay and Jake Mueller, a 6'4" wideout in Tommy Christakos, one of the most underrated players in the state in WR Jeremiah Hunter, a top slot guy in Casey Filkins, and a do-it-all guy in Baker, who can catch passes both from the WR and RB spots. Damien Moore and Chris Street provide a 1-2 punch at the RB spot.
Cal also has a solid three man group at DB with NorCal's top DBs, Dejuan Butler and Trey Paster, along with the heir apparent to Traveon Beck in Isaiah Young. At linebacker, there's two guys the Cal staff is extremely high on in Andy Alfieri and Muelu Iosefa.
All in all, Cal's pushed for a few earlier commitments, and with space closing in classes, players in general are committing sooner than ever. It could mean that Cal's class fills up sooner rather than later. Obviously, recruiting's never done until signing day, but this class, which Rivals ranks 28th in the country as of press time, is a strong group so far.
There's a handful of guys to keep an eye on going forward:
- TE DJ Rogers, as FSP 7 on 7 teammate Justin Baker told Golden Bear Report that he wants to bring Rogers with him.
- DL Jaedon Roberts, who has Bay Area roots.
How the Bears use their last six slots in the class will be interesting going forward.